The heart stops briefly when someone dies, a quick pain as you hear the news,
& someone passes from your outside life to inside. Slowly the heart adjusts to its
new weight, & slowly everything continues, sanely.
Ted Berrigan, 'Things to do in Providence'
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
THREE WEEKS AFTER JOHN'S BLOCKBUSTER NEWS, PAUL RETIRED TO HIS farm in Scotland and stayed there until Christmas, insecure and bewildered, trying to come to terms with this new development, walking in the mists and drizzle of the Mull of Kintyre, wracking his brains for a solution.
PAUL: I was going through a hard period. I exhibited all the classic symptoms of the unemployed, the redundant man. First you don't shave, and it's not to grow a groovy beard, it's because you cannot be fucking bothered. Anger, deep deep anger sets in, with everything, with yourself number one, and with everything in the world number two. And justifiably so because I was being screwed by my mates. So I didn't shave for quite a while. I didn't get up. Mornings weren't for getting up. I might get up and stay on the bed a bit and not know where to go, and get back into bed. Then if I did get up, I'd have a drink. Straight out of bed. I've never been like that. There are lots of people who've been through worse things than that but for me this was bad news because I'd always been the kind of guy who could really pull himself together and think, Oh, fuck it, but at that time I felt I'd outlived my usefulness. This was the overall feeling: that it was good while I was in the Beatles, I was useful and I could play bass for their songs, I could write songs for them to sing and for me to sing, and we could make records of them. But the minute I wasn't with the Beatles any more it became really very difficult.
Three years later, Paul told a Melody Maker journalist:
Immediately after the breakup of the Beatles I felt, What am I going to do? I needed at least a month to think a bit. I went into a period of what everyone called being a recluse, a hermit in isolation. All sorts of little snide articles appeared saying: 'He's sitting up in Scotland, looking into his mirror, admiring his image.' It was not at all true. I was just planting trees. I was just getting normal again, and giving myself time to think. I never used to understand when they used to say, 'What are you going to do when the bubble bursts?' A joke question, and we always used to say 'Ha, ha, we'll burst with it.' I never once took that question in.
The bubble had burst and Paul felt trapped: bound by contract to a band that no longer existed and controlled by a manager he didn't trust. The root of the problem was an agreement signed by all four Beatles in July 1967 at the formation of Apple which bound them together financially for ten years. The profits from everything they did, with the exception of songwriting, were to be paid into Apple, which the four of them jointly owned. None of them was able to earn money separately so the profits from John's Plastic Ono Band activities were shared equally between the four of them, along with the royalties from George, Ringo and Paul's solo albums and Beatles royalties. It was advantageous for Ringo, whose Sentimental Journey sold a quarter the number of copies of Paul's first solo outing, but it was an agreement that reflected the share-and-share-alike philosophy that characterised Apple in its early days.
Times had changed, however, and with the group no longer in existence, Paul wanted out. In April 1970, he told the London Evening Standard:
Personally, I would like to see an independent panel of experts to work out how the Beatles could be given their independent finances - so that on their individual things they could get the rewards for their efforts. Beatles things would of course still be shared. We should all have our independent incomes and let us work out for ourselves the accompanying problems. Klein says it's impossible for tax reasons but I'm not convinced.
It was not surprising that Klein wanted to preserve the status quo. John had not yet produced a halfway commercial album and George's great creative breakthrough was only just beginning: his All Things Must Pass was not released until November 1970. Paul had always written the most commercial Beatles songs and it seemed likely that he would make the most commercial solo albums. As John, George and Ringo's manager, Klein did not want them to lose their share of Paul's royalties, or to lose his own percentage.
Apple had become a prison of Paul's own making.
PAUL: I was going through a bad time, what I suspect was almost a nervous breakdown. I remember lying awake at nights shaking, which has not happened to me since. One night I'd been asleep and awoke and I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. My head was down in the pillow, I thought, Jesus, if I don't do this I'll suffocate. I remember hardly having the energy to pull myself up, but with a great struggle I pulled my head up and lay on my back and thought, That was a bit near! I just couldn't do anything. I had so much in me that I couldn't express and it was just very nervy times, very very difficult. So I eventually went and said, 'I want to leave. You can all get on with Klein and everything, just let me out.' And they said, 'No, we're not going to let you go.' Because Klein had said, 'Look, he produced "Those Were the Days" and stuff.' Like James Taylor, same idea, 'Why let him go?' I remember having one classic conversation with George Harrison, I said, 'Look, George, I want to get off the label,' and George ended the conversation, and as I say it now I almost feel like I'm lying with the devil's tongue, but I swear George said to me, 'You'll stay on the racking label. Hare Krishna.' That's how it was, that's how the times were.
I was having dreams that Klein was a dentist. I remember telling everyone and they all laughed but I said, 'No, this was a fucking scary dream!' I said, 'I can't be with the guy any longer. He's in my dreams now, and he's a baddie.' He was giving me injections in my dreams to put me out and I was thinking, Fucking hell! I've just become powerless. There's nothing I can do to stop this rot. So I decided to just get out, but they wouldn't let me out, they held me to that contract.
Paul was already thinking about recording again. Never happy unless he was making music and with the Beatles not functioning, probably extinct, Paul began recording tracks for a solo album, beginning when he and Linda returned from Scotland just before Christmas 1969. Paul had had a Studer four-track installed at Cavendish Avenue in September but had to begin work without the benefit of a mixing desk or VU meters, which were not yet delivered. He had to guess whether he was recording at the right levels and not distorting but through trial and error he got the hang of it. With the exception of people from Apple and the engineering staff at Abbey Road and Morgan Studios in Willesden, very few people were aware that he was recording. Paul told Rolling Stone afterwards: 'We decided we didn't want to tell anyone what we were doing ... That way it gets to be like home at the studio. No one knows about it and there is no one in the studio or dropping by.' Linda would make the booking and they would arrive with sandwiches and a bottle of grape juice, put the baby on the floor, give Heather her toys, and start to make music. It felt like a holiday compared to the atmosphere that had attended Beatles recording sessions for the previous two years. Paul said at the time, 'I found that I was enjoying working alone as much as I'd enjoyed the early days of the Beatles.' The first track recorded was 'The Lovely Linda', a song written in Scotland.
Paul had been given a release date by Neil Aspinall and he built the project around meeting the various deadlines that entailed: handing in a final mix tape, designing and proofing the cover art, approving test pressings and so on. Working with the artist Gordon House and the designer Roger Huggett, whom he still uses, Paul and Linda put the entire thing together at home. Paul: 'I was feeling quite comfortable, the more I went on like this. I could actually do something again. Then I rang up Apple one day and said, ''Still okay for the release date?" and they said, "No, we're changing it. You got put back now. We're going to release Let It Be first.'" This was the final straw for Paul. He couldn't even get his own record released from his own record company without obtaining clearance from the other three Beatles and Klein.
PAUL: They eventually sent Ringo round to my house at Cavendish with a message: 'We want you to put your release date back, it's for the good of the group' and all of this sort of shit, and he was giving me the party line, they just made him come round, so I did something I'd never done before, or since: I told him to get out. I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking. Linda was very helpful, she was saying, 'Look, you don't have to take this crap, you're a grown man, you have every bit as much right...' I was getting pummelled about the head, in my mind anyway.
In his Evening Standard interview at the time, Paul said:
The other day Ringo came around to see me with a letter from the others and I called him everything under the sun. But it's all business. I don't want to fall out with Ringo. I like Ringo. I think he's great. We're all talking about peace and love but really we're not feeling peaceful at all. There's no one who's to blame. We were tools to get ourselves in this situation in the first place. But it's not a comfortable situation for me to work in as an artist.
Allen Klein and John had decided to bring forward the release of Let It Be without telling Paul, and Paul eventually had to get George, as a fellow director of Apple, to authorise the release of McCartney for him on its original date, 17 April 1970.
The announcement that the Beatles had broken up is usually attributed to Paul, though he said little more than John had been saying in interviews for months - both were ambiguous, leaving the door ajar a little, just in case. It was the way that the news was delivered that made the difference.
PAUL: I didn't want to do a press conference to launch the album because whenever I'd meet a journalist, they always floored me with one question: they'd say, 'Are you happy?' and it almost made me cry. I just could not say, 'Yes. I'm happy,' and lie through my teeth, so I stopped doing interviews. Peter Brown, who was at Apple at that time, said, 'What are you going to do about publicity?' I said, 'I don't really want to do any.' He said, 'It's a new album. You'll kill it. Nobody'll even know it's out at all. You should do something.' I said 'Well, how do you suggest we do it?' He said, 'Maybe a questionnaire?' I said, 'Okay, look, you write some questions that you think the press wants to know. Send 'em over to me and I'll fill it out but I can't face a press conference.' So the questionnaire came, and Peter Brown realised that the big question was the Beatles so he put in a couple of loaded questions and rather that just say, 'I don't want to answer these,' I thought, Fuck it. If that's what he wants to know, I'll tell him. I fell I'd never be able to start a new life until I'd told people.
Peter Brown opened up with fairly standard press questions but at question 28 he asked:
Is this album a rest away from Beatles or start of a solo career?
PAUL: Time will tell. Being a solo album means 'the start of a solo career'... and not being done with the Beatles means it's a rest. So it's both.
PETER BROWN: Have you any plans for live appearances?
PETER BROWN: Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?
PAUL: Personal differences, business differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don't know.
PETER BROWN: Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?
Paul roughed out a design for the album sleeve, using Linda's photographs, and Gordon House and Roger Huggett executed it. The questionnaire and an information sheet about the album were printed up on different-coloured paper stock and record-mailing envelopes were delivered to Cavendish Avenue. Paul and Linda sat at home stuffing the pink and yellow inserts into the albums, putting the albums into the envelopes, and addressing the envelopes to the press.
PAUL: We were actually enjoying ourselves like children, Linda and I, actually enjoying life for the first time in a while. And I had put the killer scoop in there, and then I just sent this out to the press. Only the press got the ones with the questionnaire in. I think some of the press thought this was how I was releasing the album, with this questionnaire in it, so a few people said, "This is outrageous'' and John, I think, was very hurt.
I personally think he was hurt because he wanted to tell. I don't think it was anything more than that, I think it was just straightforward jealousy. He wanted to be the one, because he'd been the one to break up the Beatles and he hadn't had the nerve to follow it through because Klein had told him, 'Don't tell anyone. Keep this thing rolling as long as we can.' But we'd not seen each other for three or four months and I had been ringing, calling George and Ringo and asking 'Do you think we'll get back together?' 'Well, I don't know, what about John?' and I'd ring John. 'Oh no! Fucking hell!' So it was obviously not on. So I let the news out. So I was not loved for that by the other guys and that started a war between us.
The press, of course, not knowing that John had quit seven months earlier, thought that Paul was leaving the Beatles, precipitating the breakup, and went wild. The biggest, most successful act the world had ever known was breaking up. It was not long, however, before the true facts emerged: how first Ringo, then George had left and returned, and then finally John, never to return. Someone had to be responsible, someone had to take the blame. The press soon decided it was Yoko. Without Yoko John would not have gone through his 'avant-garde' phase and would have still wanted to play with the others instead of just doing nasty John and Yoko music. Certainly this was how the official Beatles biographer Hunter Davies saw it. He wrote in the Sunday Times that after John and Yoko got together, 'the rest of the Beatles didn't matter any more'. Yoko had broken up the beloved Beatles. His story went out over the wire services, producing many hundreds of newspaper articles worldwide with headlines like 'Beatles Expert Says Yoko Is Worm in Apple'.
The Beatles were no more. The last press release issued on their behalf was written by Derek Taylor and typed by his secretary Mavis Smith on 10 April, 1970:
Spring is here and Leeds play Chelsea tomorrow and Ringo and John and George and Paul are alive and well and full of hope.
The world is still spinning and so are we and so are you. When the spinning stops - that'll be the time to worry. Not before.
Until then, The Beatles are alive and well and the Beat goes on, the Beat goes on.
Breaking point came when Apple decided to release the long-delayed Let It Be album. In mid-April 1970, Paul told the Evening Standard:
The album was finished a year ago, but a few months ago American record producer Phil Spector was called in by John Lennon to tidy up some of the tracks. But a few weeks ago, I was sent a re-mixed version of my song 'The Long And Winding Road', with harps, horns, an orchestra and women's choir added. No one had asked me what I thought. I couldn't believe it. I would never have female voices on a Beatles record. The record came with a note from Allen Klein saying he thought the changes were necessary. I don't blame Phil Spector for doing it but it just goes to show that it's no good me sitting here thinking I'm in control because obviously I'm not. Anyway I've sent Klein a letter asking for some of the things to be altered, but I haven't received an answer yet.
Nor did he. Let It Be was released on 8 May, with none of Paul's requests implemented.
George Martin was equally shocked when he heard what had been done to Let It Be. He told Rolling Stone:
It was always understood that the album would be like nothing the Beatles had done before. It would be honest, no overdubbing, no editing, truly live ... almost amateurish. When John brought in Phil Spector he contradicted everything he had said before. When I heard the final sounds I was shaken. They were so uncharacteristic of the clean sounds the Beatles had always used. At the time Spector was John's buddy, mate and pal... I was astonished because I knew Paul would never have agreed to it. In fact I contacted him and he said nobody was more surprised than he was.
Something that most critics missed was the way in which John had allowed his antagonism towards Paul to influence his sequencing of the album. 'Two of Us', Paul's song about Linda, introduced by John as 'phase one, in which Doris gets her oats', may not have been intentional, but his sarcastic attempt to deflate what he saw as the pomposity of 'Let It Be' by inserting a facetious clip before it of himself saying in a thick Liverpool accent, 'And now we'd like to do "'Ark the Angels Come,"' was certainly deliberate. The same can be said of other tracks. The critic Ian MacDonald went as far as to say 'Lennon's crude bass playing on "The Long and Winding Road", though largely accidental, amounts to sabotage when presented as finished work.' Neither Paul nor George Martin was aware that Spector was working on the tapes, and with Paul living only minutes from EMI, it is indefensible that he was not contacted and offered a chance to put a decent bass line on one of his most beautiful compositions. As it is, Spector covered the poor playing with orchestral swirls and a heavenly chorus.
Paul decided he would sue Alien Klein, but John Eastman pointed out that Klein was not a party to any of the agreements, and had not even been involved when they were made. It always came back to the same thing: the only way out was to dissolve the Beatles partnership itself. Paul would have to break up the Beatles.
PAUL: Talk about traumas! Not only was the Beatles broken up, this fabbest of groups and these nicest of people, the other three Beatles, these true buddies of mine from way way back, these truest friends of mine were now my firmest enemies overnight. Ever since I was a child I'd been in this group, I'd grown up in this group, this was my school, my family, my life. John Eastman said, 'You've got to do it this way, there's no other way.' I said, 'I can't do it! Can you imagine the perception of the world? I know what public relations I'm going to get. I know how the press will perceive it." I was just trying to walk away from them and keep it low-key, but I couldn't. I knew I had to do it. It was either that or letting Klein have the whole thing, all the fortune we'd worked for all our lives since we were children.
But we did rescue the Beatle millions. They had taken us long enough to earn and we hadn't screwed anyone to earn them and I always thought it was very clean money compared to the shipbuilders and the great sugar fortunes. No one had to buy our records. We'd kept people in work at the vinyl factories, we'd worked for this, scraped our own fingers to the bone. So we felt good about that and I felt good about hanging on to it.
So, as the sanitised version of Let It Be followed his solo album up the charts, Paul's lawyers began building their case for the dissolution of the Beatles as a financial entity. Paul had finally decided to sue John, George and Ringo.
Preparation for the case took almost a year. Paul was in Los Angeles recording Ram when the case was finally given a court date.
PAUL: They called me and Linda back from LA: John Eastman said, 'You've got to be there every day in court.' I said, 'Whaaaat?' But I realised it was make or break. And it was, it really was. The Beatles fortune was on the line. Not just mine, but theirs as well. Which is now how I can look back at it and think, Thank God I did that. If I had not had the nerve to sue them, none of us would have anything now.
On Thursday, 18 February 1971, Paul filed a writ in the Chancery Division of the High Court calling for the dissolution of the Beatles partnership and asking for accounts to be made of the partnership's dealings and a receiver to be appointed to oversee the partners' assets. The case was actively opposed by the other three Beatles, who wanted things to remain as they were with Klein in control. Paul and Linda attended every day of the proceedings. John Eastman told Paul he had to wear a suit and tie. Paul wore his Tommy Nutter suit, the one he wore on the cover of Abbey Road, but refused to wear a tie. Paul told him, 'That's too humiliating. I'm dressing up so they'll think I'm innocent. There's no way I'm doing that.' Paul had a full navy beard, like the sailor on the Players Navy Cut cigarette packet, and wore a white open-neck shirt. None of the other Beatles made an appearance.
Paul: 'I walked down to the Law Courts and sat on the second pew from the front, facing the judge. I turned round to look and right behind me was my counsel, David Hirst, QC, with his little glass of water, and then a couple of rows behind him, in a brown turtleneck sweater, was Alien Klein. I just looked at him, then turned away'
It was quite a small courtroom, not at all what Paul had expected. His barrister David Hirst put on a brilliant show. He told Mr Justice Stamp:
Mr Klein cannot be trusted with the stewardship of the partnership, properly and assets... Mr Klein has paid himself commission to which he is not entitled and is asserting an entitlement to even more... Our confidence in Mr Klein has not been enhanced by the fact that on 29 January he was convicted on ten tax offences by a jury in a New York Federal District Court.
David Hirst explained to the judge that three things happened early in 1970 that made Paul decide to leave the group. The first was that Alien Klein tried to delay the release of Paul's solo album McCartney on the ground that it was in breach of the partnership agreement. In fact, their partnership agreement only prevented the Beatles from appearing alone or with other artists. There was nothing to prevent individual records being made. (The Beatles were not even aware that this partnership document existed until Klein found it, but in any case, these clauses in the partnership agreement had been regularly broken, mostly by John, who had performed with the Plastic Ono Band and released several albums with Yoko.)
Paul's second reason was that Alien Klein's company ABKCO altered Paul's 'Long and Winding Road' on the Let It Be album without consulting him. The third reason, David Hirst said, was that ABKCO, without any authority from Paul, had transferred the rights of the film Let It Be from Apple to United Artists.
On the third day of Paul's application for the appointment of a receiver, an affidavit from John Lennon was read out in which he said, 'I don't agree that after the touring ceased we began to drift apart.' Speaking of Alien Klein, John said, 'I wanted him as my manager. I introduced him to the other three. But if Paul is trying to suggest that I was rushing them and pushing him down their throats this is a wrong impression.' John ended by saying that Paul was behaving 'selfishly and unreasonably'.
Ringo's deposition said, 'Paul is the greatest bass guitar player in the world. He is also very determined. He goes on and on to see if he can get his own way. While this may be a virtue, it did mean that musica1 disagreements inevitably rose from time to time. But such disagreements contributed to really great products.' His statement ended by saying, 'My own view is that all four of us together could even yet work out everything satisfactorily.'
PAUL: Looking back on it now, I can say, 'Yes, okay, in the studio I could be overbearing.' Because I wanted to get it right! I
heard tapes recently of me counting in 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand', which was our first number one in the States, and I'm being pretty bossy: 'Sssh, Sssh! Clean beginning, c'mon, everyone. One, two. No, c'mon, get it right!' and I can see how that could get on your nerves. But in any case, John didn't want to make any more Beatles records. He wanted a divorce.
Inevitably, much of the case centred on matters of tax and accounting. What concerned the court was that huge sums of tax were liable and no funds appeared to have been set aside to pay them. ABKCO had, however, paid its own commissions.
Seeing Klein in court changed Paul's feelings towards him. 'I felt he wasn't such a threat now. Once the ball is rolling you get a bit of an onward-going feeling. I would be there looking at the judge all the time and if ever there was a patent lie, I would do a shake of the head or something.'
The case revolved around Klein's competence to handle the Beatles' affairs. A pile of documents three feet high had been assembled for the case and Paul's team had diligently gone through them, piece by piece. In all of the documentation there emerged one piece of directly incriminating evidence: a cheque from Capitol Records. In his new deal with Capitol, Alien Klein had increased their royally rate in tile USA from 17.5 per cent to 25 per cent and so he was contractually entitled to 20 per cent of the 7.5 per cent increase. But Klein had charged commission of £852,000, which was 20 per cent of the whole 25 per cent royalty, £648,000 of which had already been paid to him at the time of the hearing. Paul claimed that this was at least £500,000 too high. 'And we got him!' Paul exclaimed. 'That was the only thing we caught him on, and we couldn't send him to jail for that, but at least we could get a judgment.'
Klein's defence was in the form of a letter dated January 1970 from John, George and Ringo, addressed to EMI and Capitol, instructing them that royalties owed to Apple Records Inc. be paid directly to ABKCO. The exact wording read: '20 per cent of all earnings on records sold between September 1969 and April 1972, and then again after January 1976.' Though signed by the three Beatles, it was never implemented by Capitol and the first time Paul or his lawyers were aware of it was after he issued the writ. This became another point of contention, and Paul's lawyers argued that the other three did not have the power to change Klein's percentage without Paul's agreement or knowledge. The Apple agreement which bound them together demanded full rendering of information and that the partners be 'just and faithful' to each other. Citing the original Apple agreement, Mr Justice Stamp said that 'Apple was not a Frankenstein set up to control the individual partners'. The judge was particularly scathing about Alien Klein, whose testimony he described as 'the prattling of a second-class salesman', and concluded that he was unconvinced 'that there is now in the office a staff able to disentangle the Beatles' affairs, or give the necessary directions to professional men, or make the necessary administrative decisions'. In other words, he distrusted Klein's ability to administer their affairs. He granted Paul's application for a receiver to take over the running of the partnership until a full trial could determine the long-term future of the Beatles and their companies.
'So I got my freedom out of that,' Paul said. 'Funnily enough, we couldn't get Klein because what he'd done wasn't actually a crime.' Alien Klein went later to jail anyway on a separate, though related, affair. In 1979 he was imprisoned for two months for not declaring income from the sale of Apple promotional records between the years 1970 and 1972: the years spanning the court case. Most of this illegal income came from selling promotional copies of the Concert for Bangla Desh album, taking money which would have otherwise gone to the charity if those albums had been bought through normal channels.
PAUL: So anyway, what happened was I single-handedly saved the Beatle empire! Ha! Ha! He said modestly. I can laugh about it now; it was not so funny at the time. It certainly did not make me the most popular man in Britain. It was very very traumatic and there was no great joy in winning except I knew that justice had been done, although in my case, personally, justice hadn't been done because the others were continuing to slag me off. John was writing 'How do you sleep at night?' I felt I was doing it for the Beatles and that was what resulted. It was very tough. In the rough cut of that Imagine film there was some pretty tough stuff against me, you could see they were really bitter, they really thought I was to blame for all this stuff.
None of the Beatles were the sort of people ever to admit that they were wrong. This obduracy has been the cause of some of their biggest problems. Even after the other three Beatles changed their minds about Alien Klein and sued him themselves, they did not apologise or express any regrets for all the unpleasantness they had directed against Paul.
PAUL: In one meeting George did say, 'Well, you know, thanks for getting us out of that.' It was just one little sentence recognition of that hell I'd been through. It was better than nothing. But they never said, 'Hey, man, you really stuck your fucking neck out there. You had to sue us!' Anyone else suing the Beatles would have been immoral but for one of the Beatles to sue them, It was almost as if I was committing an unholy act. And I felt very much like that. I'd say it was probably the most difficult period in my life so far. So they didn't actually ever thank me and it would have been un-Beatle-like for them to thank me. Looking at it from the perspective of my age now, we were young. I would say we were children. We were the age of my children now, massively inexperienced in these dealings.
It took another six years fully to disengage the Beatles' affairs from Alien Klein, by which time he and the other three had sued and counter-sued each other, ending in January 1977 with Apple paying Klein $4,200,000. Apple continues to exist, run directly by a board of directors appointed by Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko and administered by Neil Aspinall.
PAUL: Apple is now a very successful company and one of the most successful things we did was copyright the name. Neil and the accounting people copyrighted the name Apple worldwide because we suspected that someone would nick it and put stuff out. Years later, when Apple Computers started, we went to them and said, 'Excuse us, we've got the name Apple. You can't trade under that name.' They said, 'We're very big now, we're going to be giants in the computer world.' We said, 'Well, we'll do a deal then,' and we did a deal for a large amount of money. Probably that one deal made more than Apple Electronics cost. Then Apple put a music chip in, so we went back to them because there was one proviso: they could use the name as long as they had nothing to do with music; they were Apple Computers and we were Apple Music. And then we settled for another very large amount of money, so actually the fact that we copyrighted the name Apple is one of the things that has made us the most amount of money. Housekeeping is very much in place now and Neil Aspinall turned out to be Mr X. I was in class with him, Neil is one of my longest contacts within all of this, so I'm very very glad to see Neil come out of it well.
So all the electronics and the clothes shop and all the peripheral things fell by the wayside. We were basically just trying to help young people but whereas we could help them with a vibe, when it came to the actual money it always got in a mess. The clothes weren't bad. The music wasn't bad. Many of the ideas we were engaged in, like the films and the spoken-word label, were good, but the trouble was, instead of being a highly efficient firm to allow people to go and do their tiling, everyone spent their time dealing with the problems that were being generated.
How Do You Sleep?
With such an intense relationship between the four of them, it was not surprising that they found it hard to handle the breakup. The lifestyle and pressures associated with the major bands of the sixties took a heavy toll: Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Pigpen, Al 'Blind Owl' Wilson, Keith Moon... virtually every top band lost a member, and heroin addiction was to plague many more, from Keith Richards to Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Pete Townshend and even Charlie Watts, damaging careers and causing pain. As the greatest, most pressured band of all, it is amazing that the Beatles came out of it so well.
PAUL: We lived out of each other's pockets for a long time. That was one of the great strengths of the band, that was why we were a tight little band. We could read each other very well through having gone through all these experiences. But when we actually had to break up we were so thick with each other that it was a bit painful. So we made the last album cover an exact replica of the first album cover. We were very conscious of having come full circle. That was it, goodbye.
The Please Phase Me album cover had been taken on the stairwell at EMI Manchester Square by the veteran photographer Angus McBean. The Beatles commissioned a companion shot, showing them in maturity, to use on Get Back before the album was shelved. The two photographs were used as before and after shots on the Red and the Blue compilation albums: The Beatles/1962-1966 and The Beatles/1967-1970. The staircase itself became a monument, an enormous piece of rock 'n' roll memorabilia. All EMI's new signings wanted their photograph taken on the stairwell, and it was carefully dismantled and transported to EMI's new headquarters when they moved to Brook Green, west London, in 1995.
The individual Beatles went through a difficult period with each other after the breakup. George had been on the ascendant as a songwriter during the last days of the group and now he blossomed. Though the antagonism between John and Paul was more public, the arguments between John and George appear to have been just as profound. John was very negative about George's three-album box set All Things Must Pass, and George was delighted to prove him wrong by selling millions of copies. There were other causes of disagreement between them. John originally agreed to appear with George and Ringo at the benefit concert for Bangladesh which George organised at Madison Square Garden, New York, but later insisted that Yoko be allowed to join them on stage. George had said from the beginning that Yoko was not included in his invitation and stuck to his guns. He had had enough of Yoko in the studio and for her to become, effectively, the fourth Beatle on stage was too much to ask. He was angry but not surprised when John bowed out and flew to Paris instead. John also promised to show up and join George at a few of the shows on George's solo American tour, but never did so. Apart from the personal bitternesses, the breakup of the Beatles as a financial entity provided many excuses for a good argument, particularly one occasion in December 1974, when the other Beatles all flew to New York to sign the final document in the dissolution of the group, only to find that John, who, by this time, was living there, refused to get out of bed that day 'because the stars aren't right'.
John and George's final disagreement came shortly before John's death when George published his autobiography I Me Mine, in which John Lennon is mentioned a mere eleven times. This is twice more than Paul but John was outraged and said so in Playboy: 'I was hurt by it ... By glaring omission in the book, my influence on his life is absolutely zilch and nil. Not mentioned. In his book, which is purportedly this clarity of vision of each song he wrote and its influences, he remembers every two-bit sax player or guitarist he met in subsequent years. I'm not in the book.' Sadly they had not reconciled their differences before John was murdered.
John's differences with Paul were more public, particularly after John's vitriolic attack on him in 'How Do You Sleep?' on the Imagine album. This track, which has been the subject of much comment and scrutiny, was later repudiated by John but at the time it was the cause of great hurt to Paul, who had no wish to launch a counter-attack and get into a slanging match with him. In fact, only about half the lyrics were actually by John. The remainder were by Yoko, and a couple of the lines were contributed by Alien Klein.
John and Yoko had by this time bought a large mansion called Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, near Windsor Great Park, a little deeper into the wealthy stockbroker belt than before but still quite close to George's and Ringo's houses.
One of those who witnessed the composition of 'How Do You Sleep?' was Felix Dennis, who was a house guest at Tittenhurst Park at the time. Dennis was one of the publishers of Oz magazine, and had been sentenced to jail at the Old Bailey for publishing obscene literature in the infamous 'school kids' issue of Oz. The trial had been front-page news for weeks. Felix and his two co-defendants were freed on appeal. The other two went abroad, leaving Felix to fend off the attentions of the press. John Lennon knew Felix and had recorded a benefit single, 'God Save Oz', for the Oz Defence Fund. Now the trial was over, John telephoned and invited Felix to Tittenhurst Park to get away from the media.
Felix was put up in the gatehouse and happened to be there when John was recording the basic tracks for Imagine in his home studio. The album was being produced by Phil Spector, who had produced the Oz single. George and Ringo were also there, though Ringo was only visiting and does not play on the finished album. When Felix wandered in they were rehearsing 'How Do You Sleep?'
FELIX: They were writing the song as they performed it. And as these lyrics emerged, I remember Ringo getting more and more upset by this. He was really not very happy about this, and at one point I have a clear memory of his saying, "That's enough, John.' There were two magnificent studio musicians, and they too were not very happy about it, but as usual, Lennon plowed his own furrow and he just didn't give a shit whether people liked it or not. It is absolutely true to say that Yoko wrote many of the lyrics. I watched her writing them and then watched her race into the studio to show John - which would often annoy the musicians, but she would race in there anyway, waving a piece of paper and show John she'd had an idea. He would say 'Great' or whatever, and he would add something to it, then he would come back and relax in the control room for a bit and they would confer together. They've both got appalling handwriting, writing in a great hurry.
He would think of a lyric, and then she would think of a lyric, and then they'd burst out laughing, they'd think that was absolutely hysterical. Some of it was absolutely puerile, thank God a lot of it never actually got recorded because it was highly, highly personal, like a bunch of schoolboys standing in the lavatory making scatological jokes and then falling about with laughter at their own wit. That was about the level of it but thank goodness in the end somebody obviously talked some sense to them, or they'd talked sense to each other. Maybe Ringo had got on to them and told them not to be so brutal. Some of the lyrics were a lot ruder than you will find on the final version.
To counterbalance that, even if it might have been very hurtful to Paul McCartney, I think that the mood in which it was written should be borne in mind, which was one of schoolboy for the hell of it. It's quite obvious that Paul must have been some sort of figure of authority in Lennon's life, because you don't take the piss out of somebody that isn't a figure of authority. The mood there wasn't totally vindictive. As I felt it, they were taking the piss out of the headmaster. A lot of giggling, a lot of laughing. They had one line about Paul's Little Richard singing. I don't know if this is true that Paul was always quite proud of his ability to sing like Little Richard; they were making reference to that. It never ended up on the final cut. Phil Spector never said a single word about the lyrics, but Ringo and other musicians there would remonstrate with him and say, 'Oh, for Christ's sake, John, that's a bit much, you know!' Sometimes he would agree and cross it out. All I can say, if he'd wanted to write something to really hurt Paul's feelings, they certainly compiled enough material to do so. If he'd had someone he could confide in, other than Yoko, I think they would have persuaded him to leave it in the vaults for posterity. It was a bit of a shame he ever let it out.
The song does focus on all John's resentment of Paul and it is no surprise to find in it a reference to 'Yesterday'; John never got over the fact that the two biggest Beatles songs, 'Yesterday' and 'Michelle', were solo efforts by Paul on which John did not even play. Allen Klein told Albert Goldman that after the line in 'How Do You Sleep?' that says the only song Paul wrote was 'Yesterday', John planned to scream, 'You probably pinched that bitch anyway!'
Klein was in me control booth with Phil Spector during the run-through at the Record Plant in New York, where the basic tracks were mixed and the final vocals added, and was so aghast at the potential libel involved that he demanded that John drop it. Klein himself improvised its anodyne replacement.
PAUL: When John did 'How Do You Sleep?', I didn't want to get into a slanging match. And I'm so glad now, particularly after his death, that I don't have that on my conscience. I just let him do it, because he was being fed a lot of those lines by Klein and Yoko, I had the option of going for equal time and doing all the interviews or deciding to not take up the gauntlet, and I remember consciously thinking, No, I realty mustn't. Part of it was cowardice: John was a great wit, and I didn't want to go fencing with the rapier champion of East Cheam. That was not a good idea. And I also knew that those vibes could snowball, and you start off with a perfectly innocent little contest and suddenly you find yourself doing duel to the death with the Lennon figure and it's, Oh, my God, what have I carved out here? But it meant that I had to take shit, it meant that I had to take lines like 'All you ever did was "Yesterday".'
I always find myself wanting to excuse John's behaviour, just because I loved him. It's like a child, sure he's a naughty child, but don't you call my child naughty. Even if it's me he's shitting on, don't you call him naughty. That's how I felt about this and still do. I don't have any grudge whatsoever against John. I think he was a sod to hurt me. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and because we had been so intimate he knew what would hurt me and he used it to great effect. I thought, Keep your head down and time will tell. And it did, because in the Imagine film, he says it was really all about himself.
In that film John says, 'It's not about Paul, it's about me. I'm really attacking myself. But I regret the association, well, what's to regret? He lived through it. The only thing that matters is how he and I feel about these things and not what the writer or commentator thinks about it. Him and me are okay.'
John later described it as 'using somebody as an object to create something. I wasn't really feeling that vicious at the time, but I was using my resentment towards Paul to create a song.' John amplified on this explanation in one of his last interviews, recorded for BBC Radio by Andy Peebles two days before he was murdered:
I used my resentment against Paul that I have as a kind of sibling rivalry resentment from youth, to create a song ... rivalry between two guys, I mean, it was always there, it was a creative rivalry, like there was a rivalry between the Beatles and the Stones, it was ... not a terrible vicious horrible vendetta ... I used my resentment and withdrawing from Paul and the Beatles and the relationship with Paul to write 'How Do You Sleep?' I 'don't really go round with those thoughts in my head all the time.
Paul knew this. Whereas some people were shocked and horrified at the way John would sometimes turn on them, Paul had known him since he was a kid. He had seen it all before: the drunken teddy boy kicking the art-school phone booth to pieces, fighting sailors in Hamburg, answering back to anyone in authority and turning his vicious tongue on anyone who stood in his way. Paul and George had often been the subjects of John's scorn and vituperation, but they were also his closest buddies, his musical colleagues subject to a fierce personal loyally, at least until Yoko came along. He never lost his respect for the other Beatles, despite the macho posturing in some of his interviews. It was all dumbshow.
'John and I were arguing about something and I was getting fairly heated,' Paul remembered. 'John just pulled his glasses down his nose and looked over the top and said, "It's only me," and then put them back again. Just a moment. I think that was very symptomatic of our whole relationship: John would let the barrier down and you'd get a couple of moments of deep reality, then he was defensive again.'
Despite the deep roots of their relationship, matters between John and Paul remained very bad for several years.
PAUL: I would ring him when I went to New York and he would say, 'Yeah, what d'you want?' 'I just thought we might meet?' 'Yeah, what the fuck d'you want, man?' I used actually to have some very frightening phone calls. Thank God they're not in my life any more. I went through a period when I would be so nervous to ring him and so insecure in myself that I actually felt like I was in the wrong. It was all very acrimonious and bitter. I remember one time John said, 'You're all pizza and fairy tales.' I thought, What a great album title! I said, 'Well, if that's what I am, I'm not wholly against that description of me. I can think of worse things to say.' But another time I called him and it was 'Yeah? Yeah? Whadda ya want?' He suddenly started to sound American. I said, 'Oh, fuck off, Kojak,' and slammed the phone down; we were having those kind of times, it was bad news.
One factor that enabled them to speak with each other again was a shift in John's opinion of Allen Klein, the cause of much of the rancour. Klein had been forced to give away 5000 free tickets for John's Madison Square Garden concert in order to ensure a full house, and afterwards he told John a few home truths: above all that it was John, not Yoko, that the public wanted to see. John knew that what Klein said was true; and, in fact, during the concert he had performed very much as a solo act with a backing group. Yoko's keyboard was not even plugged in even though she mimed. But it was not what Yoko wanted to hear. She immediately turned against Klein and he was soon out. When on 28 June 1973 Allen Klein sued John for $508,000 in unpaid loans from ABKCO Industries, John found himself more and more in agreement with Paul on business matters. The tension over the firing of Klein was a major factor in the breakup of John and Yoko, and by October of that year John was living with May Pang in Los Angeles. May was twenty-three and working for Yoko. Yoko told her, 'If John makes an advance to you, don't reject him.' John eventually made a pass in an elevator, which started their affair. On 2 November, John, George and Ringo sued Allen Klein for damages for alleged misrepresentation and Klein responded with a counter-action for lost fees, commissions and expenses. Teams of lawyers moved in. Paul, never having been managed by Klein, was thankful that he was not involved.
PAUL: When they split up, Yoko came to London, looking like a widow, a little diminutive sad figure in black. She came around to Cavendish, and she said, 'John's left, he's off with May Pang.' So, being friendly and seeing her plight, Linda or I said to her, 'Do you still love him? Do you want to get back with him?' She said, 'Yes.' We said, 'Well, what would it take then?' because we were going out L. A. way. We would often go there for Capitol Records or just for a laugh. It was a logical place to be in the record business. In this case we were on our way to a holiday. I said, 'I can take a message. What would I have to tell him?' And she gave me this whole thing: 'He would have to come back to New York. He can't live with me immediately. He'd have to court me, he'd have to ask me out. He'd have to send me flowers, he'll have to do it all again.' Of course, she'd sent him off with May Pang, but that wasn't the point at that time.
So I went out there and he was doing Pussy Cats with Nilsson and Keith Moon and Jesse Ed Davis, to name but three total nutters. Three beautiful total alcohol nutters plus John, forget it! Even the location is perfect. We went round to a session and sat there for a bit. It was a little bit strange, John and I, seeing each other at that time. But then we dropped by their house the next day for a cup of tea or something. I remember Harry Nilsson offering me some angel dust. I said, 'What is it?' He said, 'It's elephant tranquilliser.' I said, 'Is it fun?' He thought for about half a minute. 'No,' he said. I said, 'Well, you know what, I won't have any.' He seemed to understand. But that's how it was there.
Keith Moon was very sweet, we had a nice chat with Keith. He was very complimentary about Band on the Run, which was out recently. He asked, 'Who drummed on that, man?' and it happened to be me. So I said, 'Me, man.' Moonie is my second favourite drummer of all time. Ringo, Moonie, John Bonham would be my three main drummers. Not technically the best by a long shot but for feel and emotion and economy, they're always there. Particularly Ringo.
So I was having fun with the guys sitting round the pool, and eventually John got up. Linda and I had kids so we'd be up early. We wouldn't be just lying in bed till three in the afternoon, which is what John was doing. He was a teenager again. It was everything he'd always wanted to do in Liverpool. He was just being his old Liverpool self, just a wild, wild boy. The Brendan Behan thing. He was involved in all sorts of punch-ups with Harry Nilsson, and Spector was there letting his gun off in the control room, apparently. I mean, those are not sessions I would want to be at.
But I took John in the back room of the house, sat down -'How you doing? Great. Lovely to see you ...' He was in quite a mellow mood. It was early morning for him, early morning in the afternoon. I said, 'Yoko was through London and she said she wouldn't mind getting back together. How about you? Would you be interested in that?' He said, 'Yeah.' That he still loved her and stuff. So I said, 'Here's the deal. You've got to go back to New York. You've got to go get a flat, court her, so-and-so ...' and that's just what he did. That's how they got back together again.
With most of their business differences settled by the mid-seventies, relations between John and Paul returned to some semblance of normality, and although there was obviously not the same degree of intimacy as before, the animosity between them had gone. 'I realised that I couldn't always ring him up to ask about business, which was my main priority at the time,' Paul said. 'It was better to talk about cats, or baking bread, or babies. So we did that, and I had a lot in common with him because we were having our babies and I was into a similar sort of mode. So the air cleared and I was able to speak to him and go and see him.' Though John never again returned to Britain, Paul and Linda visited him in New York on a number of occasions. 'So we got back together again. It was lovely.'
In 1976, with his usual bravado, John said of Paul, 'He visits me every time he's in New York, like all the other rock 'n" roll creeps. I just happen to be the one in New York and I love it... So whenever he's in town I see him. He comes over and we just sit around and get mildly drunk and reminisce.'
In a role reversal, John was bringing up Sean and Yoko was taking care of business. Paul already had children and was able to offer advice and was also well aware of the kind of difficulties John must be encountering, having had no previous experience of children to speak of. His oldest son, Julian, was born at the start of Beatlemania and so John was hardly ever around to watch him grow up. When John and Cynthia broke up, Julian remained with his mother and rarely saw his father.
PAUL: It was unfortunate for Julian. I'd been fortunate to be around a lot of kids. I'm from a big family so your cousins would dump a baby on you and you'd know you have to jiggle him on your knee. You couldn't go, 'Oh no, I'm scared of babies!' You had to jiggle it and you became good at it. I used to like playing with kids a lot. One of my enduring memories of when the Beatles first hit it and we were very famous, you'd go to people's houses and they'd say, 'Would you just say good night to the kids? Would you? The babies won't go to sleep till you do.' So I'd always go up and say, 'Good night, sleep well.' I enjoyed it, it was a very calm, fulfilling role for me. I've enjoyed being a parent, just never had a problem with it, touch wood. I've had problems with parenthood, like anyone does, but my mind was never set against children or kids, they never frightened me, whereas I think they did with John, even his own son.
We'd gone on this Greek holiday once to buy an island and Julian and I spent a lot time playing around on the boat. I used to play cowboys and Indians with him, and he'd love it: a grown-up who would go, 'Now you chase me, and I'll chase you, but after you've caught me, not before, okay?' And you were totally in this mad magic game. I remember John coming up to me once and he took me aside and said, 'How do you do it?' I said, 'What do you mean?" He said, 'With Julian. How do you play with kids like that?' I remember feeling a wave of sorrow coming over me, like uhh, I'd love to be able to tell you. Then I tried to give like the potted version, you know, 'Play, pretend you're a kid. Play with him.' But John never got it. Never got the hang of it. John was always a man. I see a lot of parents like that, still, to this day. They can't make the break to realise that it's great to give so much of yourself to a kid, because you get it all back in triplicate. Some people just don't know that. John was a single child so he didn't necessarily know that and he didn't get much education afterwards.
When we saw him with May Pang, I remember him coming up to me and hugging. He said, 'Touching is good. Touching's good,' and if I ever hug anyone now, that's a little thing that sticks in my mind. He was right, but the thing is, I actually knew it more than John did, he only was saying it because he was discovering it. I don't think he had a lot of cuddling, certainly not from his mother, because he wasn't even allowed to live with her.
In May 1976, because of all the rumours circulating about a Beatles reunion during the Wings tour of the USA, the Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels went to the NBC bosses and asked, 'If I wanted the Beatles on my show, how much could I pay them?' and was told top standard rate: $3,200 for the four of them. It became a running gag on the show. John and Paul happened to be watching the programme. Paul: 'I recollect that John said, "It's only downtown, we could go now. Come on, let's just show up. Should we, should we?" and for a second it was like, "Yeah, yeah!" But we decided not to.' John: 'We nearly got a cab, but we were actually too tired.'
According to John, this was the last time he and Paul physically met. He told Playboy: 'That was a period when Paul just kept turning up at our door with a guitar. I would let him in but finally I said to him, "Please call before you come over. It's not 1956, and turning up at the door isn't the same any more. You know, just give me a ring." He was upset by that but I didn't mean it badly. I just meant that I was taking care of a baby all day and some guy turns up at the door...' Though John's 'house-husband' phase is not supposed to have started until October 1976, when Sean was a year old, John must have had all the sleepless nights and child-minding duties that any father experiences during Sean's first year so his attitude was understandable.
PAUL: We were back together again as friends, which was really cool. We would talk about Sean. He gave Sean an upbringing, making sure that Sean had the father he'd not had. And it was a very rewarding time for him. That's why Sean's a pretty stable kid now.
Early on 9 December 1980, while Linda was taking the kids to school, Paul received a telephone call from Steven Shrimpton at his office telling him that John had been murdered. At 10.50 p.m. New York time, a mentally deranged fan had shot and killed John outside the Dakota as he returned home from a recording session at the Record Plant.
When Linda returned from the school she could tell from Paul's ashen face that something bad had happened.
Liverpool Echo, 9 December 1980: Just after 8.45 a.m. Paul telephoned his brother Michael, and according to Michael, he was too distressed to speak. 'Paul just said to keep sending the good vibes down from Liverpool to help him through the day. It is going to be a busy day for him and he is very, very upset,' said Mike.
At noon, Paul decided that the only way to get through the day was to work. He told the journalists who had gathered at the gate of his drive, 'I can't take it in at the moment. John was a great man, who'll be remembered for his unique contributions to art, music and world peace.' He spent the day at AIR Studios in London, talking with George Martin and recording. Security guards had to be brought in to keep the reporters and photographers at bay, some of whom tried to break into the studio using the fire exits. Asked for a statement as he left, Paul told them he hoped everyone would 'rally round Yoko'.
George Harrison heard the news from his sister Louise, who lived in the USA. His staff secured the gates of Friar Park against the gathering crowd of reporters and fans and, like Paul, he spent the day in the studio.
Ringo was in the Bahamas with his wife Barbara when the news broke and they took the next plane to New York. At first Yoko insisted on seeing him alone until he gently explained that she and John had always been as one and that was how it was with him and Barbara.
PAUL: When be died that day, I was so horrified, I just had like stage fright all day. Some of it was just fright, like 'Are you next?' That was a question whipping around the three of us, but also the complete emptiness and the finality of it. Someone stuck a microphone in the window of the car as I was leaving the studios that night; I was just beginning to wrestle with it and it was just sinking in, and someone said, 'What d'you think of the death of John Lennon?' And I really couldn't think of anything more to say than 'It's a drag' and it came out really slow. But of course when it got printed - 'Paul McCartney, asked for his definitive version of how he felt, said, "It's a drag"' - it looked so callous in print. You can't take the prim back and say, "Look, ler me just rub that print in shit and pee over it and then cry over it for three years, then you'll see what I meant when I said that word.' I should have said, 'It's the most unholiest of drags,' and it might have been better. What I meant was, 'Fuck off! Don't invade my privacy.' But I managed to pull something together, but unfortunately it was something that would add to the McCartney idiot myth, some soppy guy who doesn't care about anything, 'Oh, it's a drag!'
When I got home I wept buckets, in the privacy of my own home. I controlled it all during the day, but that evening when it was on the news and all the in-depth shit, and all the pundits were coming out, trotting out all their little witticisms, I did a lot of weeping. I remember screaming that Mark Chapman was the jerk of all jerks; I felt so robbed and so emotional. It shocked me for months afterwards and you couldn't talk to me about guns. Any mention of the word 'gun', 'rifle', 'pistol', 'shoot', just shocked me, sent a wave of reverberation through me like a little echo of the pistol shot. You couldn't even say, 'That's a good shot,' about a photograph, it just rang through. The very next day after he was killed there was a pheasant shoot in the woods. Linda went out and talked to them ... It was a tough period but luckily, once that had subsided, I was able to think, At least we parted on good terms. Thank God for that.
Paul told the Sunday Express:
After his death, Linda and I went round to Yoko's and we all cried so hard, you know, we had to laugh. She wanted to get us something to eat and she mentioned caviar. We all said, 'Let's do it.' Her houseman brought it in, mumbling, and he backed out and there was the caviar tin with just a little bit in the bottom. Her servants had eaten it all!
So I said, 'Ask for some wine.' Sure enough, it arrives and there's like a quarter left in the bottle. They've had all the wine too! We were all just hysterical and the relief was indescribable.
PAUL: John used to say, 'I'm the leader of this group!' and we used to say, 'It's only because you fucking shout louder than anyone else!' It wasn't as if we didn't know how to do that, it was just nobody wanted to shout and be so uptight about it. Nobody cared as much as he did about being the leader. Actually I have always quite enjoyed being second. I realised why it was when I was out riding: whoever is first opens all the gates. If you're second you just get to walk through. They've knocked down all the walls, they've taken all the stinging nettles, they take all the shit and whoever's second, which is damn near to first, waltzes through and has an easy life. You're still up with number one. Number one still needs you as his companion, so I think my relationship to John is something to do with this attitude.
John was always very forward-thinking. That was often his greatest asset. If it was like, 'Should we say fifty swear words on this record, or shall we do the song we were meant to do?' 'No, no, no, let's do the fifty swear words. That's a good idea, that's certainly interesting.' John would always, in my imagination anyway, push for that. So it was always very good having this prod, this battering-ram partner. It was something to do with our personalities and character, which doesn't change a lot in life. John would always advise jumping off a cliff. It was one of his symbolic things. He'd say, 'So you come to edge of a cliff, and you don't know what to do, so jump!' John was always the jumper, the suicide man, the one off the cliff, he always had to be bigger and bolder and brighter, which was what excited people about John. We like those people, we like high-risk people, that's how John was and that was the radical difference between us. I've always made that conscious decision, It's like the Cyril Connolly quote, 'There is no more sombre enemy of good art than a pram in the hall.' I've always said, 'Well, I obviously can't be that interested in art then because I'm not fucking ruining my life just for a song or for a painting, particularly when I've done so well anyway. I could leave the whole fucking thing and say, "Sorry, lads, that was it. That was my input. That was it, that's all I can do, I can't summon up any more."'
Certainly in the early days of the group, John saw himself as the leader, even if the other three regarded it as a four-way democracy. This changed with Sgt. Pepper when Paul took over de facto leadership. When it came to songwriting, it was never anything other than an equal partnership; astonishingly so: each brought about the same number of song ideas and each produced about the same number of solo efforts.
PAUL: A body of work was produced that I don't believe he alone could have produced, or I alone could have produced. It was only me that sat in those hotel rooms, in his house in the attic; it wasn't Yoko, it wasn't Sean, it wasn't Julian, it wasn't George, it wasn't Mimi, it wasn't Ringo, it wasn't Miles. It was me that sat in those rooms, seeing him in all his moods and all his little things, seeing him not being able to write a song, and having me help, seeing me not able to write a song and him help me.
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The truth of the matter is, John and I were kind of equal. It really did pan itself out about equal. That's one of the amazing things about it. People can say, 'Oh, well, it wasn't Paul, it was John, or it wasn't John it was Paul,' but I who was there know that's not true, the other Beatles know mat's not true. So much of it was team effort, joint effort, there really was so much of it.